Terror Victim's Dad Issues Public Plea To Political Leaders To Stop Fueling Hate
The father of London Bridge terror attack victim Jack Merritt says his son would be ‘livid’ if he knew how his death was being used as a political spear.
In a powerful piece published on Tuesday morning (local time), David Merritt remembered his "intelligent" and "fiercely loyal" son, who he said was an advocate for prisoner rehabilitation.
He took aim at the response from political leaders such as UK PM Boris Johnson and journalists, who he has accused of using Jack's death to advance messaging around dealing with convicted offenders.
“He [Jack] would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against," Merritt wrote in an opinion piece published by The Guardian.
Last Friday, convicted terrorist Usman Khan fatally stabbed Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, at a prisoner rehabilitation event near London Bridge.
Both victims were part of Cambridge University's 'Learning Together' programme which connects university students and offenders through education.
"Jack was proud. Jack was absorbingly intelligent. Jack was fiercely loyal ... but Jack was also angry, frustrated, selfless, stubborn," his father wrote.
"He was angry because he saw our society failing those most in need. He was frustrated because the political elite have forgotten why it is important to be fair."
Khan, who was shot dead by police, had been sentenced to a minimum of eight years in 2012 for offences including plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange and the British parliament.
He was released a year ago reportedly without an assessment from the parole board of whether he was a threat to the public, despite a warning from the sentencing judge that such an assessment should be made.
These revelations have turned Friday's attack into an increasingly politicised election issue, ahead of the UK's general election on December 12.
Boris Johnson has sought to blame Labour for the release of Khan, promising a tougher stance on the release of prisoners if his Conservative party win a majority.
In an interview with BBC One, Johnson said it was "ridiculous" that someone such as Khan was freed midway through an earlier sentence.
“The reason this killer was out on the streets was because of automatic early release which was brought in by a leftie government," he said.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said Conservative cuts to community policing, probation, mental health, youth and social services could "lead to missed chances to intervene in the lives of people who go on to commit inexcusable acts".
A veteran peace campaigner, Corbyn has also said convicted terrorists should not necessarily serve their full prison terms and has long said that British foreign policy in the Middle East has played a role in motivating militants.
Merritt, who describes himself as "left-leaning" on Twitter, did not directly reference Johnson in his opinion piece.
"If Jack could comment on his death -- and the tragic incident on Friday 29 November -- he would be livid," he wrote in the Guardian piece.
We would see him ticking it over in his mind before a word was uttered between us. Jack would understand the political timing with visceral clarity.
He would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against. We should never forget that.
He said his son would have wanted "for all of us to walk through the door he has booted down, in his black Doc Martens".
"That door opens up a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key. Where we do not give indeterminate sentences, or convict people on joint enterprise. Where we do not slash prison budgets, and where we focus on rehabilitation, not revenge. Where we do not consistently undermine our public services, the lifeline of our nation.
"Jack believed in the inherent goodness of humanity, and felt a deep social responsibility to protect that."
With his death, Merritt appealed to the masses to "never give up his fight".
"Through us all, Jack marches on," he wrote.
"Borrow his intelligence, share his drive, feel his passion, burn with his anger, and extinguish hatred with his kindness. Never give up his fight.
"To Jack Merritt. Now, and forever."
- With AAP.